We explore a new concept in on Massachusetts high school, where students choose their curriculum, homework assignments and classroom structure.
In the traditional school, curriculum is chosen by school board members and taught by faculty – usually standing in front of a classroom of students. Students can choose to engage in the lesson, or not, but they rarely have much say in what or how they learn. Until now. One high school in Massachusetts
has set course on a whole new kind of learning adventure, where students choose the subjects and run the classroom as they see fit? Does it work? Let’s find out.
The Independent Project
recently reported on an innovative program taking place at Monument Mountain Regional High School
in Massachusetts. The program, aptly dubbed the “Independent Project,” offers students a chance to determine how and what they study during school hours. The project was started by a student who became frustrated seeing his friends lose interest in class and simply stop making the effort to perform academically.
Sam Levin complained to his mother about the problem, who promptly suggested Levin start his own school. The high school student began with a garden
on school property that was fully tended by students on a voluntary basis. When Levin saw how readily students put forth effort on a project all their own, he decided to expand the garden concept to other aspects of the school experience.
“I was seeing the exact opposite in school,” Levin told Time. “Kids weren’t even doing the things they needed to do to get credit. There was something at odds with students getting up to work for no credit or money [on the garden] at 7 in the morning, but not wanting to wake up to read or do a science experiment. I saw the really amazing and powerful things that happened when high school students stepped it up and were excited about something.”
Initial Success Breeds Expansion
Levin worked with Monument Mountain high school counselor Mike Powell to expand the program, which was officially approved by the school board and launched in 2010. Although Levin has since graduated from the school and is...read more